SLPP, APC Political Tensions Continue To Undermine Peace and Cohesion

By Amin Kef Sesay

According to Teddy Foday-Musa, a Rotary Peace Fellow and a lecturer at the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, despite Sierra Leone’s transition from civil war to peace, political parties continue to stoke tensions along ethnic and regional lines to gain voter support.

The Calabash took to the streets to interview some citizens about what they think are the causes of continued tensions between whatever political party is in power and the opposition.

Significantly they named three institutions as being the main cause of political tensions in the country.

One, they said NEC not conducting free, fair, transparent elections whose results are accepted by all parties.

Secondly, they stated that in the post-election atmosphere, the Police being used to brutalize and suppress the rights, liberties and freedoms of the opposition.

Thirdly, they stated that the Judiciary too plays a very big part in fueling political tension in the country by not ruling quickly, fairly and justly in highly controversial election petition matters.

Thus, with the Government having taken to Parliament a Peace Commission Bill, many Sierra Leoneans maintain that for it to fulfill its intended purpose of establishing peace and cohesion among the people of Sierra Leone, the Government must ensure it remains politically independent.

Teddy Foday-Musa observed that almost twenty years after the country’s politically induced war ended, the country is yet to achieve genuine political peace.

According to the learned scholar, while there has certainly been some superficial political commitment to peace and democracy, as demonstrated by four consecutive peaceful elections – respectively in 2002, 2007, 2012 and 2018 – the country continues to resurface political divisions and other issues that threaten national unity and social cohesion.

He fears that the country risks relapsing into violence should such divisions and political tensions not be addressed.

He highlighted that after the 2018 elections, political interactions between the two major political parties – APC and SLPP – is expressed in the form of threats to the country’s peace and security, which he said has been aggravated by social media as a platform for disseminating hate speech and messages of violence.

Disunity among Sierra Leoneans, Teddy Foday Musa, said is that disunity is not a hidden secret, fueled during periods of electioneering by ethnicity and regionalism.

The current Government of Sierra Leone, in contrast to previous administrations, has identified the strengthening of national cohesion as a top priority area. In his address on 10 May 2018 to Parliament, President Bio noted that,: “In the last ten years, the building blocks of national cohesion and the feeling of belonging of all citizens have gravely crumbled. The recent governance strategy has been characterized by tribalism, divisiveness, exclusion and the weakening and subversion of state governing institutions…”

As to the causes of disunity in the society, Civil Society Activist, Andrew Lavalie, Teddy said, notes: ‘The regional and ethnic voting pattern in elections undermines our national cohesion. It is unfortunate that ethnicity plays a salient role in our national politics both as a source for political organization and a basis for support…The results of the 2007, 2012 and 2018 elections clearly depict a pattern of ethnic and regional allegiance”.

Of particular concern to Teddy is the hate-driven politics between the APC and SLPP.

“Their current political tension is the fodder for future violent conflict. Challenging conditions have added fuel to the fire, as disillusioned party supporters, many of them unemployed youth, show a willingness to confront the Police and thus perpetuate violence. Instead of seeking solutions to these tensions, party leaders continue to preach divisive messages to their supporters, conditioning them to work against the national Government’s agenda.”

Given this narrative, The Calabash would want to believe that the work of the coming Peace Commission is to, according to Teddy, critically understand and address the ways mutual mistrust, suspicion, anger and animosity spill over into priorities of national development, such as the fight against corruption and attracting foreign investment.


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